Nearly a thousand people gather for opening of the new house for Palmerston

Tuesday July 09, 2019 Written by Published in Culture
Marsters House - Hare Avarau of Palmerston, unveiled and opened yesterday morning. 19070802 Marsters House - Hare Avarau of Palmerston, unveiled and opened yesterday morning. 19070802

Martha Soatini had dreams of a castle for the construction of a Palmerston house.


The opening of Marsters House or Hare Avarau-Palmerston yesterday was a vision from the people that finally was established. “It felt amazing, really it is a dream come true,” says Soatini.

In the late afternoon sun – after the rauti had been cut, after the speeches had finished, after the hundreds of wellwishers had left – Soatini is perched on a chair in front, relaxed.

“I’m still sitting here, letting it all sink in,” she says.

Soatini represents the Marsters tribe in Australia, who together with New Zealand members raised $400,000 in cash and kind in just a month, to support the building of a home for Palmerston people in Rarotonga.

“Glory be to God, without him, all this would not have been possible,” says Soatini.

The “kahara” (sacred drum beats), chants, songs, vibrant colours and the sweet scent of fresh ei were spread out at the occasion.

Spirits were high with joyful hymns and songs that kept on with families on their feet dancing, until kindly encouraged by veteran emcee George George to cease singing for the formalities to continue.

Queens Representative Sir Tom Marsters, also the chairman of the board of trustees delivered a warm speech thanking past and present members who championed for the building.

He spoke loudly for all descendants who have passed on, acknowledging their loyalty and dedication and had dreams of seeing the hostel become a reality including the late: Rena Jonassen, first chairman Richard Sonny Marsters, Tom Tamarua Marsters, Howard Marsters and Albert Peto Nicholas.

Thirty years ago ideas for the building circulated amongst families of William Marsters, who had five wives.

“Five families built the house, together collectively the first time in 150 years all of the five kopu are here, together,” said Sir Tom Marsters. “This House is dedicated to the lord.”

Reverand Joel Taime Marsters  is chairman of the Palmerston/Penrhyn grouping in Cairns, Australia. He too is happy and proud to see the outcome.

With all the five branches of the clan represented together at an event for the first time he is astounded, “seeing everyone, it’s a big family, we are fortunate to be here to witness this historical occasion.”

Former prime ministers and Marsters descendants, Dr Joe Williams and Dr Robert Woonton arrived specially for the occasion, leading the procession to present Palmerston’s new flag.

A song composed by Dr Jon TM Jonassen “Hare Ava Rau – Marsters House” was sung by his sister Lily Jonassen-Andrew.

The Giovanni Marsters contractors company with his partner Inano Matapo were responsible for the construction along with daily support and assistance from family tradesmen.

Leave a comment